Federal ministries react cautiously to S4F’s catalogue of questions about the climate cabinet

In response to the negotiations on the Federal Climate Protection Act (KSG, adopted on December 12, 2019), Scientists 4 Future Heidelberg, on behalf of Scientists 4 Future Germany, sent a request with a list of questions to the members of the formed climate cabinet on September 12, 2019.

The Scientists 4 Future question catalogue included questions on the following topics: Greenhouse gas pricing, transport, energy and industry, buildings and land use. In the individual sectors, Scientists 4 Future asked specific questions on the feasibility of implementing measures to meet the climate targets of the Paris Convention. The aim of the letter was to find out the motivation of the individual ministers in order to find out who influenced the consensus to what extent. As all ministries concerned were given the same say and asked the same questions on climate-related issues, the question had the potential to avoid unilateral conclusions. However, we also considered it appropriate to ask all ministers on issues that are outside the core competence of the respective ministry. Scientists 4 Future’s aim in the evaluation was to create comparability and transparency.

Low response rate

After the first deadline had passed (20 September 2019), we submitted the request in the same form again on 16 October and 7 November. The following ministers* have replied to the question (in chronological order; the date of the written reply is given in brackets)

  • Julia Klöckner, Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture (Oct. 14, 2019)
  • Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister of Economics and Energy (30 Oct. 2019)
  • Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (29 Nov. 2019)
  • Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (19 Dec. 2019)

We have not received an answer to our inquiry from the following members of the Climate Cabinet:

  • Dr. Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor
  • Olaf Scholz, Federal Minister of Finance
  • Prof. Dr. Helge Braun, Federal Minister for Special Tasks and Head of the Federal Chancellery
  • Steffen Seibert, Spokesman of the Federal Government and Head of the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government

The Federal Minister of the Interior, for Building and Homeland Affairs, Horst Seehofer, rejected our request on November 21.

Reactions of the ministries

The answer by the Federal Minister of Economics and Energy Peter Altmaier (CDU) was preceded by a telephone conversation with a member of the “Department LB 3 – Citizens’ Dialogue”. This department provided written answers to the questionnaire, some of which have been edited. Link (German)

In her reply, the Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Julia Klöckner (CDU), referred to ten measures that had been decided on in her ministry in the areas of agriculture and forestry. However, there was no information on the date of the decision, the decision-making body or whether compliance with the catalogue of measures was voluntary or binding. Ms Klöckner added these ten measures to her letter, but did not answer in detail the questions in the catalogue sent. Link (German)

The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), headed by Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD), represented by Dr. Karsten Sach (Director General “International and European Policy, Climate Policy”), was the last department to submit a written response. The BMU is the central ministry for environmental protection measures and the fight against climate change. We therefore welcome the processing of the questionnaire. This was also the only reply from an SPD-led ministry. However, many of the questions were answered by the Climate Protection Programme 2030 or the Climate Package. Link (German)

Finally, the reply from the Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure Andreas Scheuer (CSU) deserves special mention. In this letter, the Minister completely refrains from dealing with the questions sent out and confines himself to naming the Climate Protection Programme 2030 adopted on 9 October 2019 and the Federal Climate Protection Act, also adopted on 9 October 2019, as sufficient measures of the Federal Cabinet to protect the climate. The Minister formulated this as follows: “You will find detailed information on your questions in these [the draft Federal Climate Protection Act adopted on 9 October 2019] resolutions”. Link (German)

A resume

Scientists 4 Future speaks of exactly this attitude when we say: “Please be clear! We call on the politicians involved to ensure that the decisions made are transparent in their scope and effect for every citizen. Transparency should not be the exception, which is occasionally granted by our federal ministers, but an incremental part of the process. We feel that we can expect more from our elected representatives than what they are willing to do. We at S4F Heidelberg understand that answering our questions is an effort for the ministries, but the reaction of many does not show that the Federal Climate Protection Act is a “big shot”.

A large number of scientists from different regional groups have participated in the creation of the questionnaire. A lot of work has been put into the targeted questioning of specific topics. The letter was supported by the regional groups in Munich, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Landau, Greifswald, Bingen, Gießen and Heidelberg.

It is important to us all to contribute to the climate protection debate and to continue to stand up for the work for which Dr. Gregor Hagedorn and Scientists 4 Future were honored with the Federal Prize for Sustainability.

Scientists 4 Future Heidelberg/ Dr. A. Jürgens & F. Munzlinger

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